Digital Tipping Point: Gabriella Coleman, an anthropologist studying the Free Open Source Software movement 08
This series of interview segments features anthropologist Gabriella Coleman. You might think that anthropologist are only useful for studying bones of old, forgotten cultures, but you would be wrong. As this series of 10 interview segments shows, we can learn a lot about modern cultures and subcultures from anthropologists.
Gabriella is not a computer scientist, but she does a great job of gaining enough computer science knowledge to understand what members of the Free Open Source Software movement are saying to each other. Her interviews are fascinating, because she spends much of her time thinking and talking about how people in the Free Open Source Software movement have created norms and established trust. These are really important issues, for several reasons. First, Free Open Source Software establishes the basic infrastructure for hundreds of billions of dollars in commerce every year. The Internet basically runs on Free Open Source Software, as does Google, Facebook, and most other such businesses. The US National Security Agency relies on GNU-Linux to run its computers, as does the US military. Huge civil bodies such as the City of Munich and the Region of Extremadura, Spain, rely on it. Second, Free Open Source Software is very international, as Gabriella points out, so what we learn from Free Open Source Software about collaboration can help humanity manage our complex international relations more smoothly in other areas as well.
In segment 07 (Tape 106~007), Gabriella continues on talking about how the Mozilla Firefox browser is an example the power of a Free Open Source Software project can survive the death of a commercial business that was supporting it. Many of her colleagues at the University of Chicago use Firefox, and so she uses Firefox as an example when explaining to her colleagues what Free Open Source Software is.
She found Free Open Source Software "choppy" at first, but now she is astounded at how fast it is growing user-friendly software. She is excited to see what it will be like in 5 years. The growth of user-friendliness is due to the proliferation of the the Internet and PCs. As the Internet as penetrated further into our lives, Free Open Source Software has followed along, and is becoming more important t average users, so more software is written for them.
Another reason that many developers are motivated to continue programing with Free Open Source Software is that they started when they were young, sometimes as young as three years old, so the values of Free Open Source Software are deeply engrained in them.
In segment 08 (Tape 106~008), Gabriella addresses the issue of the gender gap in Free Open Source Software, in which more men than women are active in developing the software. She believes this phenomenon is attributable to the fact the girls start writing code later in life, perhaps not until they are women, as opposed to boys, who start writing code when they are younger. But she cites Pia Waugh, the President of Linux Australia (with whom the DTP crew had hung out but had not had an opportunity to interview, sadly!) as an example of the growing role of women in Free Open Source Software. Members of the community are also starting to discuss the root causes of this gender gap, which she finds promising. She says that Free Open Source Software is still a subculture, but as it grows, more women will join Free Open Source Software coding efforts.
As an example of the subcultural world of Free Open Source Software, she discusses key signing events. She says that these events would seem odd to outsiders, but they are important events to the community, because these events allow people to vouch for the identities of one another, which allows them to manage really really large projects, such as the Debian project. She says that person-to-person events like the FISL conference where this footage was shot is an example of such personal interactions, where tacit knowledge and unspoken understandings are instituted and cultivated.
This footage is our raw rough-cut footage. It lacks transitions, music, special effectsor finish rendering. It is our "source code". Please feel free to rip, mix and burn this footage consistent with our Creative Commons license as disclosed on this page.
http://www.archive.org/details/e-dv105_pa_17_gabriella_coleman_foss_anthropol_005.ogg (segment 01)
http://www.archive.org/details/e-dv105_pa_17_gabriella_coleman_foss_anthropol_006.ogg (segment 02)
http://www.archive.org/details/e-dv106_pa_18_gabriella_coleman_foss_anthropol_003.ogg (segment 03)
http://www.archive.org/details/e-dv106_pa_18_gabriella_coleman_foss_anthropol_004.ogg (segment 04)
http://www.archive.org/details/e-dv106_pa_18_gabriella_coleman_foss_anthropol_005.ogg (segment 05)
http://www.archive.org/details/e-dv106_pa_18_gabriella_coleman_foss_anthropol_006.ogg (segment 06)
http://www.archive.org/details/e-dv106_pa_18_gabriella_coleman_foss_anthropol_007.ogg (segment 07)
http://www.archive.org/details/e-dv106_pa_18_gabriella_coleman_foss_anthropol_008.ogg (segment 08)
http://www.archive.org/details/e-dv107_pa_19_gabriella_coleman_foss_anthropol_001.ogg (segment 09)
http://www.archive.org/details/e-dv107_pa_19_gabriella_coleman_foss_anthropol_002.ogg (segment 10)
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